Getting by on less than a gigabyte

I recently switched my mobile phone from T-Mobile to Google Fi. The main reason I changed was for the better international service – T-Mobile gave me free 2G service internationally, while Google Fi gave me full-speed service at the same price I paid at home ($10/GB, capped at $60 for up to 15GB). Having full-speed data was worth paying a little money!

And it’s worked out well – I could use my phone in Europe and Asia as if I’d been at home, with great coverage, good speed, and no worries.

Every month, whether I traveled or not, I found myself using just under 6GB – so I was paying almost as much as possible while not taking advantage of the free data above 6GB. This seemed silly, but, unless I wanted to use data for no good reason, what could I do?

Last month, I decided to try something different. I’d already started using Apple’s Screen Time feature to add a little resistance to spending a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter; now, I decided to try not to idly pick up my phone while I was out and about, at least not without WiFi.

And at the end of the month, I had used 0.88 GB, for a data bill of $8.80 instead of the usual $57. I didn’t feel particularly deprived, and it was kinda pleasant to look at the world instead of my screen!

I don’t think every month will end up under a gigabyte, but having that tiny incentive to stay off the phone seems like a good idea.

Waiting is fine, but sometimes you need to take action

Diane and I got the old shingles vaccine as soon as we were eligible, because we knew people who’d had shingles and didn’t want to join them.

When the new recombinant vaccine was announced, we closely followed its progress to release (just like a new iPhone!), and we got on the queue at CVS as soon as we could.

That was six months ago. We added ourselves to the queue at a nearby Safeway four months ago, but there’s been no sign of progress in that time. If I call the pharmacy, their answer is “yes, you’re on the list; no, we’re not getting much supply; don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

In the meantime, my half-brother contracted shingles, and it was the worst case I’d heard of yet. It’s not genetically-linked as far as I know, but his experience encouraged me to keep calling.

Yesterday, I read the latest Consumer Reports on Health, which included an article on the need for vaccination and a link to, the FDA’s source of information on vaccine availability. The site said that every CVS and Safeway near us carried the vaccine – but it also listed another local pharmacy, Pharmaca.

I called them, and the pharmacist said she had an ample supply. We decided to brave the beach traffic in Los Gatos and drive downtown – a good plan until we ran into heavy traffic. I found a parking place and we walked the last three-quarters of a mile (discovering that the heavy traffic dissipated a block after we got out of the car!) to the pharmacy.

A little less than an hour later, we left, with sore arms, lighter wallets, and the first of two shots (and assurance that they’d have the second shot in two months, when we’re due for it).

I wish I’d thought to check Pharmaca long ago – we walk by it nearly every week!

If you’re looking for the shingles vaccine, check – it might help you, too!

(Edited to correct the VaccineFinder site – it’s, not .gov. Thanks, Diane Reese, for the correction!)